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Mary Dockerty - teenage memories from the 50s

page created 16th October 2010, amended/updated Monday, 30 May 2011
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Many thanks to Mary Dockerty
for sharing her memories;
and to the late Helen Barry, the first editor of the 'Welney News'.
page design © Welney Website, 2010
Mary Dockerty wrote the following article in 1998 for edition 3 of the 'Welney News'. Mary was then living in Tipps End:


I moved to Welney in 1952, having been born and raised at One Hundred Foot Bank in Pymore. My father was Will Kent who lived as a boy at the Welney Hotel. My mother had been a local midwife before marriage, so most of the Welney people knew the family well, if not directly related.

On moving to Welney we moved into the Three Tuns on the Bedford Bank. My father was landlord of this establishment and also helped out on the land and also occasionally went punt gunning and shooting.

At the Three Tuns, we took in fishermen, mostly from Sheffield, London and Leicester. Many came to us every year while we lived at the Tuns. They paid 5 guineas a week for full board, which included breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. This was very hard work for my mother as we sometimes had 18 men staying with us at any one time. There was always a big crowd from Sheffield in the two weeks when the cutlery firms closed down for the holidays. When we had so many guests, I was moved next door to stay with Lionel and Hazel Carter, so that my bedroom could be used to house extra guests. lf you are wondering where they all slept - in those days the living room was off the bar, where the modern toilets are now - and upstairs there were as many as six beds to a room. These fishermen from Leicester, pictured here with me, tried catching eels.

Some fishermen came just for a Sunday's fishing aniving in buses and my mother made a suggestion to enable me to earn some money to buy a racing bike I had set my heart on. She suggested that I sell cups of tea to the fishermen when they came up from the riverbank to catch the bus. As my mother kept my overheads at a minimum by providing me with the tea, milk and sugar, I was soon on my way to Wisbech to purchase my much dreamed of new racing bike. Unfortunately my bike proved no match to the speed of Roy Loveday's which had a fixed wheel.

During the summer evenings we all met at the Delph River, where we had a special place for swimming and, of course, during the winter we would all be there with our skates. I learned to skate with the help of a chair on the river outside the Three Tuns. I remember one day Lionel Carter speeding from his house through the bridge to the Eagle Tavern. He had a lucky escape because the ice had melted under the bridge and he had to do a 'James Bond' type leap to safety on the other side.

Many of the under age young men in the village started drinking at the Three Tuns. My father was very strict and would only allow them so much. He also had a knack for knowing when the local 'bobby' was about. One young man (who still lives in the village) insisted that he wanted more to drink after my father had said that he had had enough, so my father took the offender down to the river and ducked his head under! I was allowed my first cream stout on my thirteenth birthday.

Many Friday night dances were held in the Village Hall at about the time that the electronic organ had just started to become popular. I was not allowed to go to the dances, but enjoyed listening to the music from my bedroom next door.

During the week, in the winter, we often used to have only one customer, Mr. Bill Rolfe from the Bedford Bank near the pumping station. To save the expense of lighting the taproom, Mr. Rolfe used to come into our living room for his Guinness. As he would never drink from a glass, he did not make much work.

All drinks served in the pub were kept in the cellar located down some steps at the back of the pub. Pints were drawn from barrels. We had a piano in the taproom and when my Uncle, Hugh Carter, was persuaded to play, everyone had a good singsong. I remember that the taproom had a red floor, which my mother polished with Cardinal red polish. We had two elderly men who regularly came to the pub. Mr. Alf James (Emie's father) and General Booth. Whoever anived first would sit by the fire in the 'Granddad' chair and the other would spend all night glaring because they had not got the good chair.

My teenage years in Welney were happy ones. On a spring day, we could wander among the washes which would be covered in cuckoo flowers, buttercups and daisies. I had a fishing rod which was a particularly handy excuse when I wanted to get out of helping Mum wash up.

Sometimes, too, I would go over to the apple trees near the Lamb and Flag and climb up with my book, hidden from sight. lwas always getting told off because I had my head buried in a book, just the same as teenagers are today with the TV  and computers.
Related pages on this website
Mary's tales of the 1890s-1920s
Three Tuns
Welney Hotel
Related pages on other websites
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